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Fugitive Sex Offender Falls Into Task Force's Trap

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — U.S. Marshals just completed a weeklong round-up called Operation Falcon-3. Now, 367 of the area's most-wanted fugitives are off the street.

Each arrest followed weeks of intelligence and surveillance. But, in one case, it was good police work and a stroke of blind luck that netted a sex offender.

The capture of Richard Lee Davis was anything but typical. The search for Davis and others began with the reading of an inspirational e-mail from the father of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was murdered by a sex offender in Florida last year.

"An unregistered sex offender broke into the home, took little Jessica away in her nightgown and with her stuffed animal," said task force team leader Keith Adams.

Adams and his team started their search for Davis with two versions of the same address. They found the address and surrounded the house. Davis wasn't there, but his girlfriend's 16-year-old son was, and he said Davis had moved to an unknown address.

Leaving a business card, the team moved on to a place Davis was known to hang out. Showing his picture and after asking people in the area if they'd seen him, a solid lead came from just across the street.

The manager of a nearby business said Davis often cashed checks at the store and that he ran a nearby gym. The team gathered around the corner from the gym, now joined by officers from the local department.

When the time was right, the officers moved in. But again, there was no luck.

"It's imperative we find this guy," Adams said. "We've got federal warrants on him."

Then Adams' phone rang. Davis was on the other line, wondering why he was the subject of so much attention. He agreed to meet the officers at a gas station just down the road to talk.

Skepticism quickly gave way to the reality that after a day of searching, a wanted fugitive had fallen right into their laps.

"We lucked out on this one," Adams said. "But we were hitting all the right places and possibly struck a nerve with this guy."

Adams said that the crimes of which fugitives are guilty are things that the task force takes to heart.

"You never know what these guys are capable of doing next, so getting these guys off the street is a big priority for us," he said.


Gerald Owens, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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